Best of 2016 Playlist

August 7, 2015

As It Is - "Never Happy Ever After" Review

2015 is full of pop punk throwback albums. Amidst many complaints that pop punk has "become full of mainstream sellouts, and pop travesties" bands like A\\ and Neck Deep have brought back the 2000s vibe to the genre. As with many debuts in this vein, the overall album isn't too ground breaking, or inventive. But what pop punk lacks in originality, it makes up for in guitar riffs, catchy lyrics, and good vibes. I'm a sucker for a good 2000s throwback album, and this is no exception. 

The band does what pop punk does best. Make songs that you'll be humming all summer. Deemed "happy punk" by this reviewer, you are met with upbeat, positive songs that ooze energy. "Dial Tones" is a must listen to track, as the perfect single post-label signing. It's reminiscent of "Weightless" by All Time Low, or even "Going Away to College" by blink-182. Soft verses burst into a powerful chorus that cranks the volume from 5 to 25 in only a few seconds. If you listen to only one track from this album, it should be this one. "Speak Soft" is one of the best album openers I've heard this year

Technically pop punk albums aren't very interesting. And this one is just as simple as those that have come before it. But what makes pop punk great is the simple nature of the chord progressions and riffs. A\\ have mastered this aspect of writing, creating catchy hooks as good as that of some senior bands such as New Found Glory or the already mentioned All Time Low. 

And despite all the good on the album, it has its fair share of bad. The production puts an obvious spotlight on the vocals and the lead guitar. And that was a big mistake. The worst part of the album are the vocals. Patty and Ben's singing voices contrast each other as one has a very high voice, and the other produces a rougher sound meant for punk rock. The vocalists are equally responsible for the horrible screams and shouts. I could do without all the unnecessary screaming from both vocalists. They're trying to add an edge that their music doesn't need. Adding unclean vocals to their pop punk doesn't make for a good sound. Easycore should be left to the professionals, Chunk! No Captain Chunk! and A Day to Remember. 

Patty's vocals are at their best in "You, The Room, & The Devil On Your Shoulder". This is the one softer track done right. The others are hit and misses in my book. "Drowning Deep in Doubt" is my least favorite track. The vocals stink, simple as that. Ben's are tolerable, but Patty's sometimes come off as trying to emulate Kellin Quinn's. The first verse sounds like someone is squeezing Patty's nuts while he's singing. Sure the vocals will make some fangirls squeal, but from someone who isn't full of crazy hormones, it's just lots of high pitched whining. It sounds like he has yet to go through puberty. 

You except a vocalist to maintain a certain consistency. Throughout the album, Patty goes all over the board with his nasally wails, half screams, and barely audible squeals. His half screams sound like he's coughing up a hairball made of glass and tinfoil. Unlike Patty, Ben's singing are more suited to the band's sound. His vocals have the same edge that vocalists like Dan from The Wonder Years, or Derek from State Champs have. Ben's vocals shine through on "Turn Back to Me". I hope in the future he gets more singing duties because he has the talents to be a frontman, and his voice doesn't make me wonder if they had a sick animal in the studio. 

Summary -
When all is said and done, As It Is should be proud of this debut. The band is going to have a bright future ahead of them if they can polish and perfect their talents. Pop punk is pretty cut and dry in term of its lyrical content, instrumentals, and live performances, but A\\ have done an outstanding job in making a name for themselves The band is still young, and it's evident they have a lot to learn, but everything they've done thus far points in the right direction. An album for fans of State Champs, Neck Deep, and so many more. 

Favorite Tracks -
Lead single "Dial Tones" is the perfect summer song, and my clear favorite, but "Concrete" and "Speak Softly" tie for a close second place. 

Rating -